The Art of Cartography: Stories

J. S. Marcus, Author, Ann Close, Editor Knopf Publishing Group $18 (129p) ISBN 978-0-394-55946-9
In Marcus's impressive first collection of short stories, characters restlessly search for a way to define themselves and their lives in a modern world that resists definition. Mostly young, they occupy the no-man's-land between childhood and settled adulthood. In ``Centaurs,'' a law student who dreamed of being a actress when she was a child now imagines being a CEO, but drifts lethargically through her courses. Another character, in ``The Most Important Thing,'' struggles with labels: ``Photographer; Jew; bureaucrat. I am certainly more than these things.'' Young people share apartments in New York City, meeting only at 3 a.m., or follow one another to Europe, hoping always for a real connection but finding only random intermingling. Lives overlap yet are inevitably separate. ``Nearly everyone is some timestet else,'' as well as someone else. His prose is startlingly vivid in conveying a confused hopelessness, but often his stance is too distant to give empathetic insight. And in trying to map out the right route, only a few of the characters come to a resolution, realizing there is no final destination and that nothing will ever be immutable. As for the others, Marcus and his listing of sad vignettes leave them stuck in an always shifting world. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
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